The Giro d’Italia 2019‘s first summit finish saw a supercharged breakaway, more action than a Marvel movie and some very significant moves. Finally, the race sprang to life on the road up to Lago Serru when Katusha’s Ilnur Zakarin powered to a mighty win. Behind him Simon Yates faded, Movistar played a blinder and the GC cream started to rise to the top. Jan Polanc stays in pink as the mountainous weekend beckons.
The day’s breakaway contained more intrigue than an episode of House of Cards. We knew the leading group held the stage’s outcome within it, we just didn’t know what that outcome would be. Would a stage sniper like Fausto Masnada (Androni-Allthelogos) prevail? With Ilnur Zakarin, Bauke Mollema (Trek) and Davide Formolo (Bora) together, would someone find their legs and revive their GC campaign?
Or would the breakaway provide the support for one of the big GC contenders who stayed about 2 minutes behind them? Astana, Mitchelton-Scott, Movistar and Bahrain-Merida had all positioned riders in the break.
Rider of the DayEmbed from Getty Images
So much happened today but no one stamped their authority on the race as much as Ilnur Zakarin. He bought a ticket in the breakaway lottery and proved to be the strongest of the strong. He comfortably kept pace while others put in attack after attack. Then, with 5kms to the summit and the lead group whittled down to nearly nothing, he made his move. Once he was gone, you could see the energy he had left. It was as if he’d been riding an easy tempo all afternoon and now it was time to test the legs a bit.
In the final kilometre, you could tell his pace wasn’t going to let up. Maybe it was the desire to win a prestigious stage, maybe he wanted to give Katusha a victory to end their four-month drought, maybe he just wanted to shut up those who had written him off [various members of VeloVoices hang their heads in shame – ed]. Whatever the reason you could see his inner determination not to give an inch as he powered to the line. In fact, he was so determined to get there quickly, he didn’t even zip up his jersey to give his sponsors the money shot.
The Russian’s performance today meant that he leapt to third in the GC. Chapeau!
Tales of the Unexpected
After a fairly sedate if not soporific start to the Giro, today’s stage had more going on than the cameras could cover. Much of it unexpected:Embed from Getty Images
Movistar played a blinder! Not always the most tactical of teams, Movistar sent Mikel Landa up the GC standings with a beautifully worked move. It involved Landa breaking free from the favourite’s group, meeting up with breakaway teammates Andrey Amador and Hector Carretero and finishing the stage in third place. Looks like this Giro’s Movistar team isn’t looking just for the team prize on the final podium in Verona.Embed from Getty Images
Simon Yates went backwards! When Landa started his attack, the pace of the favourite’s group went up and Yates could not cope. So much so, he finished the stage five minutes after Zakarin crossed the line. The suspicion is that Mitchelton-Scott were ready for this: they allowed Mikel Nieve (second on the stage) to stay away and wasn’t called back to help Yates. Fun fact: Nieve finished higher than Yates on GC in last year’s Giro and could well do so again this year.Embed from Getty Images
Roglic has Nibali’s number! A shark attack was on many fans’ wish lists today. And although Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) may have had many digs, Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) covered them all with apparent ease. At times it seemed that the Italian was on the ragged edge trying to get away whilst the Slovenian was calmly keeping pace. I don’t think it’s the last we’ll see of this duel, particularly considering His Nibs’ remarks at the end of the stage, and I don’t think this even-stevens will always be the outcome either.Embed from Getty Images
UAE and Polanc keep pink! On the stage’s second climb, pink jersey wearer Jan Polanc got distanced from the team leaders group that he’d been hanging with. For a while it looked like the jersey would be changing holder at the end of the stage. The feisty Polanc, however, had other ideas. He caught back on during the descent and put up a fearsome battle on the last 20km climb. Polanc finished close enough to the leaders to hold on to the maglia rosa with a nearly two and half minute margin.Embed from Getty Images
Tales of the totally predictable! Friday’s 13th Giro stage saw more mechanical bad luck for Astana’s Miguel Angel Lopez. Halfway up the final climb, he almost suffered the indignity of a neutral service wheel change. A spare bike appeared from his team car and Lopez battled hard to make up some of his losses. At the end of the day, the Colombian had wiped out all the time gains he made yesterday. It’ll be scant comfort that he’s now moved into the top ten on GC.
And in conclusion …
Some riders rode themselves into contention, others found the going too tough. The hills brought the Giro alive and asked as many questions as they answered. We’re in for a fascinating final week!
Stage Results – Top 5Embed from Getty Images
1 Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) 5:34:40
2 Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott) +0:35
3 Mikel Landa (Movistar) +1:20
4 Richard Carapaz (Movistar) +1:38
5 Bauke Mollema (Trek) +1:45
General Classification – Top 10Embed from Getty Images
1 Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) 54:28:59
2 Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) +2:25
3 Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) +2:56
4 Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) +3:06
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) +4:09
6 Richard Carapaz (Movistar) +4:22
7 Rafal Majka (BORA-hansgrohe) +4:28
8 Mikel Landa (Movistar) +5:08
10 Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) +7:48
All the jerseys
Maglia rosa – Jan Polanc (UAE-Team Emirates)
Maglia blanca – Pavel Sivakov (Team Ineos)
Maglia azzurra – Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo)
Maglia ciclamino – Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ)
For full stage review and race results, go to cyclingnews.